hawaiian at home.

When I was living in California, there was this little Hawaiian restaurant within walking distance from me — Hawaiian Drive Inn in Alameda, and i fell in love with it. My sister and brother in law introduced it to me as one of their “go to” spots — other than Chipotle. When I tasted it I couldn’t understand why Chipotle was even another option! Everything about this place was great (except for the soups, but come on, why order soup when there’s other delicious options). The first thing I decided to try there was the loco moco, which, if you aren’t familiar with Hawaiian meals, is two hamburger beef patties atop rice, and atop that two eggs any style and drenched in gravy. It’s such a delicious comfort food, and that’s what I loved about that restaurant. It was a small family run business, and the food tasted like good comfort home cooking. I tried most of the things off their menu, but it was the teriyaki steak and kalbi ribs that really got me hooked. Wait, it was also the BBQ chicken musubi and macaroni salad. Wait, I can’t forget the malasadas. Malasadas are Portuguese yeast donuts that are really popular in Hawaii. They are light and fluffy and fried and covered in sugar — um, yes please.

So anyways, where am I going with this? It’s been three months since I’ve eaten delicious Hawaiian food, and I’ve been craving it since I left. I figured that since the food there tasted so home made and comforting, than I could definitely make it at home and have it be just as good. So I decided to make a macaroni salad, malasadas, and the delicious teriyaki steak. It was definitely what I needed, but I’ll be honest, not as good as the Hawaiian Drive Inn. The steaks did turn out really full of flavor, and I’m sure they would have been bursting with flavor if I marinated them longer than two hours — overnight perhaps. I searched for different teriyaki sauce recipes, and I found a simple one that looked reliable at . I will definitely be going back to that recipe, because the flavor was perfect. Like I said, if I marinated the meat overnight, it would have been insanely good. I also wanted to use thin cut steak, but couldn’t find any, but the top round i used was just fine.

As for the macaroni salad, the restaurant’s had little bits of chicken in it, but I didn’t have any chicken, so it was just plain ol’ mac. I don’t think I seasoned it enough, as it tasted kind of bland, but nothing a little salt and pepper couldn’t fix up. The recipe I used was really simple, calling only for elbow macaroni, hellman’s mayonnaise, grated carrots, milk and salt & pepper. Simple.

And lastly, the malasadas. Oh my poor malasadas. They were nothing like the ones at the restaurant, but only because I don’t think I made them right. The dough never got to rise fully like it said it would in the recipe,but I went ahead and fried them anyways. They weren’t airy, and not as soft as they should have been, and pretty dark on the outside. Not terrible, but not amazing either.

Overall, the meal was tasty and filling, and I would make again, with some tweaks here and there. I know I’m going to work on my malasadas in the near future.


Valentine’s Day

so i normally don’t really celebrate valentine’s day, because i feel that there shouldn’t be a specific day that you show your loved ones you care for them. that should be every day, am i right? well anyways, i’m not one of those people who despises it either. sure, it’s a hallmark holiday made so people can spend lots of money and eat lots of candy and buy and receive flowers. but it also means you can bake some cute things for your loved ones (or for yourself)! i didn’t have much time to bake on valentine’s day because i did have work, but i had enough time to whip up a batch of cupcakes for my boyfriend. he’s a simple guy, and likes simple desserts. he loves my carrot cupcakes, and after this valentine’s day, he has a new favorite. and nope, i didn’t make a traditional red velvet cupcake. i made vanilla bean cupcakes with a strawberry buttercream frosting. whatever i was going to make, i wanted it to somehow represent the holiday, and the pink frosting did the job.

i originally tried making a swiss meringue buttercream, but completely failed. i think the thermometer i used was broken, and i didn’t heat the ingredients up long enough. whatever the case, i will try again in the near future. so after that miserable failure, i decided i needed to whip up a quick buttercream frosting to go with my strawberry puree. let me tell you, the frosting turned out fabulous. you can really taste the strawberries, it doesn’t taste like artificial strawberry frosting in a can, it tastes like the real deal – because it was! all i did was made a simple butter cream frosting – confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla extract and a tbsp of milk, and added about 1/2-1 c of strawberry puree. i have no idea how much of it i actually added, because i tend to not measure things out in the kitchen if i somewhat have the hang of what i’m doing. i don’t even measure out my confectioners sugar, because i like to control the sweetness of my frosting. sometimes the frosting tastes too powdery, sometimes it doesn’t taste sweet enough – so i adjust everything to my own liking.

as for the vanilla bean cupcakes, i got the recipe from Annie’s Eats and they turned out superb. i didn’t actually have any vanilla beans to use for the recipe, so i used the equivalent of vanilla powder. the cupcakes turned out perfectly moist, with a light vanilla flavor. it paired perfectly with my strawberry buttercream frosting. it’s definitely a versatile cupcake. since the flavor is so light, you could pair it with nearly any type of frosting. you might be able to tell the frosting isn’t completely solid on the cupcake. i think i did add a little too much strawberry puree. but kept in a cool area (for instance, my refrigerator) the frosting does stiffen up, and therefor makes the cupcake almost perfect. !



Visit Annie’s Eats for the vanilla bean cupcake recipe.

Strawberry Buttercream frosting adapted from here.

My first time with bagels.

So apparently February 9th was national bagel day, so what did I have to do? Make bagels! I’ve never made bagels before. I’m actually pretty new to baking breads in general. I’ve had this weird fear of yeast, and I think it stems back to a couple years ago where I wanted to try and make bialys but I failed to follow directions correctly, which in turn made the recipe a flop, which happened to be my first time using yeast. So since then, I was afraid of using yeast, but now I am breaking out of that shell, and want to use yeast as much as possible, because these bagels gave me hope! I was nervous, but I knew it had to be done. I turned to my King Arthur Flour All Purpose cookbook, flipped to the bagel section, and decided it was time. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I threw out my bread flour a while ago when i was cleaning the cupboards, because it was old, so I had to trek out in the Chicago blizzard for some bread flour. I was determined (and I also didn’t feel like being trapped in the house all day, so it was a good excuse to leave).

I was actually pretty surprised at how easy this recipe was. I expected it to be difficult, but I was wrong. I only had to let the dough rise for about an hour and a half, then another 30 minutes after separating into 8 individual pieces. Then after that, I had to poke a hole in the middle of the dough to give it that bagel shape, which wasn’t too difficult. I think the hardest part of everything, was lifting the dough back up off of my pan without losing its shape. I will figure out a better method for it next time (oh and there will definitely be a next time, and a next time, and a next time.! ). And for anyone who didn’t know, bagels go into a quick hot water bath before getting baked. About 2 minutes on one side, and turn them over for another minute – although I have also read that it also depends on how chewy you like your bagels, to how long you should let them stay in the water. But its usually no more than 4 minutes.

So after the bath, I popped em onto a bakingt sheet, brushed on an egg white wash and sprinkled a good amount of sesame seeds onto the bagels. Then into the oven for about 25 minutes. I  was supposed to flip them over half way through in order to keep its puffiness, but oops, i forgot. I remembered when there was about 5 minutes left, so i did it anyways.  I admit, when I took them out, they weren’t as puffy as bagels should be, but it didn’t bother me much, because honestly, these bagels were great. They just screamed FRESH BAGELS! I’ve never had a fresher bagel in my life – and this was great. They had the right amount of chewiness, and the taste was so great. I will definitely make them again, perhaps this weekend. I’d love to make them with an everything topping, because that would just be the ultimate bagel.

Highly recommend to anyone out there, to try and make their own bagels. It’s not difficult at all, and you will impress everyone you know by telling them you made your own bagels! And who doesn’t love bagels? In other news: I’ve had a ton of chorizo in my kitchen, and I want to use it up, so with some leftovers I decided to make chorizo burgers. I mixed them with ground turkey and ground beef, and they came out superb. I added a whole bunch of random spices to the mix, and then grilled them on a stovetop grill. And what better to go with chorizo burgers, than the lovely avocado. I maded a simple avocado slaw: green and purple cabbage, 2 avocados, a little bit of sour cream, cilantro, salt and pepper, and ta da! delicious avo-slaw. I popped these bad boys on a challah roll, and it was some seriously good eats.

What food is called for on Superbowl Sunday?

Chili! Obviously! And whats the one thing you have to have when you have chili? Cornbread! And what goes great with everything and makes everything better? Bacon! So the superbowl is a great excuse to cook up a big pot of chili and cornbread. My boyfriend saw this recipe for peanut butter chili on The Peanut Butter Boy and demanded i make it. First of all, for all of you who are thinking "peanut butter in chili?" don’t fret, because it is seriously delicious. I put way more peanut butter than was called for in the recipe, because I also just started adding a bunch of random stuff into the pot. I could taste just a hint of peanut butter in the chili and let me tell you, it is good. The recipe calls for lean ground turkey and lean ground pork, and instead i used 1/2 lb of ground turkey, 1/2 lb ground beef and 1/2 lb of chorizo pork. i thought the chorizo would help add to the spice of the chili. For some reason I couldn’t get the chili to a spice level i was comfortable with. I like my chili realllly spicy, and this wasn’t that spicy. ( I added tons of chili powder, and added hot sauce as well to help make it a little spicier). I really love making chili though, because I like adding everything but the kitchen sink into it. And no matter what I add, and how much, it only tastes better after each test. As for the cornbread, Flour girl tweeted a recipe last week or so about a bacon cornbread she was baking. I saw the picture, and knew I had to bake it. I could eat cornbraed all day, and with everything. And what better way to make it with bacon! It was a recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which I really need to get my hands on this week. The recipe stated to soak the cornmeal in buttermilk overnight, and I completely forgot to do that, so luckily I was able to soak it for about 4 hours this morning. This is probably a necessary step in order to make the cornbread deliciously moist. I was able to make oven baked bacon for the first time ever today, and let me tell you, I am never going to fry bacon again ever. It was sooo easy, and the bacon turned out PERFECT. I highly recommend to all you bacon lovers, that you bake your bacon, because you will not be disappointed. This will make you love bacon even more than you already do, and I know you never thought that was possible. must serve chili and cornbread with beer. so yum. look at those delicious perfectly crisped slices of bacon. they barely shrunk, AND i didn’t have to suffer through the splashing bacon grease. and clean up is a breeze =)

bacon cornbread recipe:
from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

1 cup (6 oz) coarse cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz) buttermilk
8 oz bacon (approx. 10 slices)
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) flour
1 1/2 Tbsp (.05 oz) baking powder
1/4 tsp (.16 oz) baking soda
1 tsp (.25 oz) salt
1/4 cup (2 oz) white sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) brown sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp (1.5 oz) honey
2 Tbsp (1 oz) butter, melted
2 1/2 cups (16 oz) corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp (1 oz) bacon fat or vegetable oil)

1. the night before making the bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

2. the next day, fry the bacon or cook it in the oven. drain off the fat into a can or bowl and save for greasing the pan. when the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.

3. preheat the oven to 350. sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. stir in the sugar and brown sugar. in another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs. add this to the soacked cornmeal mixture.

4. add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth. stir in the corn kernels until they are even distributed.

4. place 2 Tbsp of the bacon fat in 10 inch cake pan or a 9×13 inch baking pan. place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fat gets very hot. remove the pan, tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides and pour in the batter. sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top, gently pressing them into the batter.

5. bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, until the bread is firm and a tester comes out clean. allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. for muffins, fill muffin tins to the top and bake at 350 F for the same amount of time.

Oven-Baked Bacon

preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly lay out the bacon. (i was able to fit approx 10 slices)
put on the center rack of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top and bottom of the bacon are evenly browned. (you’ll be able to know when it’s done, bake to you’re preferred level of crispiness).

I’d also like to thank Jamie of My Baking Addiction for randomly choosing me as her Rose’s Heavenly Cakes book giveaway!

I am super stoked, as I have never won anything in my life! And I knew this was a book I had to add to my cookbook collection. I’ll be eagerly awaiting it’s arrival, and prepared to bake some beautiful delicious cakes!

World Nutella Day 2010

happy world nutella day everyone! i hope you all did something to celebrate. this is my first year taking part in world nutella day, but not my first time with nutella! i had to ban nutella from my house for a while due to the fact that it is insanely addicting and i could eat half a jar in a sitting without realizing. but for this day, i let nutella back into my life.

there are so many recipes out there that incorporate nutella, and if i had the time i would have made more goodies today, but my three hour nap got in the way. luckily, everyday is nutella day to me.

i wanted to do something simple, and figured a bundt cake would be pretty simple. i used a yellow cake recipe from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread cookbook — which by the way, has tons of awesome recipes i’m looking forward to trying. I’m not that great mathematically, so I didn’t know how to incorporate the nutella without screwing up the recipe, but I was too lazy to figure it out, so I just winged it. After pouring half the yellow cake batter into the bundt pan, i melted some nutella in the microwave, then poured it on top of the batter and swirled it in. then i added the rest of the yellow batter on top of that, did another little swirl, and hoped for the best. i ended up having to keep it in the oven for about 12 minutes longer than the recipe called for, probably because of all the volume in the cake pan. it turned out pretty decent. the cake was very moist, and i didn’t really get a pretty result with the swirls, but that’s okay with me. if someone served this cake to me, i don’t know if i would be able to tell it has nutella in it, because i think the flavors of the yellow cake and nutella combined more than i wanted. still tasty though!

you must eat this cake with milk. it is necessary due to the delicious moistness. well thats not all for nutella day. after i awoke from my slumber i got back in the kitchen and decided to make a japanese treat with nutella — daifuku. it’s mochi (glutinous rice cake) stuffed with something sweet, usually anko (red bean paste) but today, i used nutella and strawberries. i can’t tell you all how much i love daifuku. they are the perfect amount of sweet, and the mochi is chewy and fun to eat. this is the first time i made them with a filling other than anko. i didn’t have any food coloring, so they look kind of plain, but the taste is far from that. my daifuku making skills are kind of on the low side, it is kind of hard to do! i’m definitely going to have to make more to work on that. =) that last picture i sliced open a pretty messed up daifuku to show you all how it looks inside. the nutella was bursting out, but normally, the fillings will not burst out like that if you are good at folding mochi.

my daifuku go to recipe is from VeganYumYum. they are super easy to make ( besides the folding part ) and they only take about 10 minutes total.

well that’s all for world nutella day. my belly is full of nutella and full of love. happy eating.

Rick Bayless: Mexican Everyday

Today I made a trip to the library to check out some cookbooks. To my surprise, Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday cookbook was actually available to check out! I’ve been wanting to check it out, but haven’t wanted to put it on the hold shelf, because that would mean committing to check it out, which means, i would probably forget or laziness would take over, and I wouldn’t pick it up. So anyhoo, I was really excited when I saw it on the shelf, and immediately sat down to look through it and see what i wanted to cook up tonight. (If any of you aren’t familiar with Rick Bayless, well then get familiarized. Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO, Top Chef, Chicago, etc. The sad thing – I haven’t gotten around to going to any of his restaurants, and I live in the Chicago area. SOON i promise). Anyways, i immediately flipped to the section with tacos and tortas, because it’s been a long time since I’ve had either. I was actually craving Mexican food pretty hard earlier this week, so Rick Bayless to the rescue! I found the perfect recipe – Crusty Black Bean-Chorizo Subs aka Tortas de Chorizo y Frijoles Negros. The list of ingredients was not extensive, and I knew this would be delicious, because, chorizo + beans + avocado + cheese + SANDWICHED together. yes. The recipe called for roasted tomatillo salsa or hot sauce, and I decided to go all out and make the salsa, too. Tonight would be Mexican night. So after I left the library, I went off to the market to get my ingredients, and rushed home because I was starving. I also decided to make a soup to ago along with it, although I didn’t really pair it very well. I decided to make his Mushroom-Potato Crema w/ Roasted poblanos. I had just gotten my brand new hand immersion blender the other day and was extremely eager to use it, and this soup would be the first to test it out on.

The results were great. Well with the torta at least. The soup wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as creamy delicious as I had hoped for. But I was more excited about the sandwich anyways, so I didn’t feel so bad. Chorizo, i have a new love for you. I never was a huge fan of chorizo before, I think it was due to the fact that i would get painful stomach aches after eating it (but honestly, when do i not have an upset stomach after eating Mexican?) I was a big fan of the vegetarian version – soyrizo, and still am, and would definitely make this again vegetarian style. But let me tell you. There was tons of flavor, a little spiciness, and it was just the bomb sandwich. I also had fun making the salsa, as it was my first time with that. I roasted my own tomatillos! hooray me! And it was super easy too.

my tomatillos roasting on a foiled pan on the stove (i didn’t have a nonstick, so it suggested covering the pan with foil which was nice, and easy on the clean up). a really ugly picture of the salsa: as ugly as the picture is, the salsa is really great. I’m going to have to remember to use 2 jalapenos rather than 1. maybe even 3. i like salsa hot enough to clear my sinuses. the soup: and finally: THE TORTA

i found the perfect rolls to use for the tortas, got them crusty on the stove, then topped them off with:
chorizo-black bean mixture
Mexican queso fresco
tomatillo salsa
and it was just pure yum. i think i skimped on the chorizo, because they turned out almost bean burgerish,which is totally fine with me, but next time i really want to taste that chorizo. I’m excited to make these again, and i think next time, I’ll even add some bacon, just for kicks. i even got my hands on some Mexican mango paletas at Aldi! yes, for anyone who is wondering, Aldi does sell paletas, for cheap too! (obviously). a pack of 6 for $2.99? yes, please. I’m going to have to try and make my own in the future, because hot damn, they are good.


well, check back in tomorrow, because it’s World Nutella Day!

KAF Whole Grain Baking: Lemon-Poppy Seed Bread

So a couple weeks ago I bought the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I want to be able to include more whole grains in my diet, and I figured since I consume a good amount of baked goods (probably more than i should), it would be nice to be able to ingest at least some good-for-the-body-good-for-the-soul nutrients.*  the book is filled with tons of recipes ranging from pancakes to oatmeal, to pies and cookies, and of course breads, and all recipes consisting of whole grains (but NOT ALL are 100% whole grain). so since i’ve had the book for a while, I finally got around to baking one of the recipes.

i decided to bake the Lemon-Poppy seed bread. i loveee lemon poppy seed muffins, and I’ve had an unopened jar of poppy seeds for quite some time, and figured this was the time to put them to use (originally purchased them to make poppy seed bialys, which was a fail, but that’s another story). i happened to have most of the ingredients on hand already, except for the lemon yogurt which was called for in the recipe. i also, couldn’t find a “good” lemon yogurt in stores, only ones that used far too much artificial crap and high fructose corn syrup, and so instead i decided to use regular plain yogurt with lemon extract added. the result was not bad at all. it didn’t give off that oh-so-lemony taste, which i think would have, if i were to include the lemon yogurt, or if i were to add more lemon extract or zest. i did add the optional glaze that is in the recipe, because, glaze makes everything delicious, and i’m glad i did. the glaze added that extra lemon zing to it, and a little sweetness, which i always seem to need. i really enjoyed this bread, and think i will make mini muffins with the recipe next time. the whole grains that were included in this recipe were white whole wheat flour and oat flour, and it is not 100% whole grain, because unbleached all purpose flour was still used.

i’m hoping to bake more this week from this cookbook, so stay tuned! 


Note: this is not a “healthy” cookbook. it is even stated in the intro, that it is not intended to be a book lecturing its readers on including more whole grains into their diet. its about flavor, and trying to come up with recipes that taste great, without being complete energy dense foods.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour: Whole Grain Baking Bread:

1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c oat flour
3/4 c unbleached AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
3/4 c lemon yogurt
1/4 c poppy seeds

optional lemon glaze
1/2 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp milk

preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan
1. whisk together the flours w/ the baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

2. cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl til fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, scarping sides and bottom between additions. add lemon zest then 1/3rd of the dry ingredients. add the lemon juice, then another third of dry ingredients. mix in yogurt and poppy seeds, then remaining dry ingredients.

3. pour the batter into prepared pan. bake until toothpick inserts in the center comes clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes. remove from oven, place on a rack, and cool in pan for 15 to 20 minutes. after, run a table knife around edges of pan and tip bread out. return bread to rack to cool completely before glazing. to make glaze: whisk together all ingredients until smooth. brush or drizzle on top of cooled bread.

nutritional information per seving ( 1 slice, without glaze) 14 g whole grains, 204 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g protein, 17 g complex carbs, 13 g sugar, 3 g dietary fiber, 45 mg cholesterol, 169 mg sodium.